In our opening game preview of the Oregon State Beavers this season, we noted just how young and inexperienced the team was in 2015. Little did we know what a disaster that would spell for the team, as the Beavers finished 2-10 this weekend, ending on a nine-game losing streak—all in Pac-12 play. OSU finished in the bottom 20 for both scoring offense and scoring defense this season, and that’s ugly.
The only wins came against vastly inferior competition: FCS school Weber State and FBS small-school San Jose State. Ironically, the Spartans may end up in the postseason with their 5-7 record thanks to a dearth of qualified teams, but the Beavers won’t be going anywhere this holiday season—except back to the film room.
All 10 Oregon State losses came against major-conference programs, by an average of 24.9 points. Six times in those 10 losses, the Beavers offense couldn’t even manage 14 points. Defensively, OSU gave up 35 points or more eight times. That’s a lot of inexperience showing through on game day, and Head Coach Gary Andersen has a lot of work to do in the offseason.
The schedule gets harder in 2016, as the Beavers open with a road date at Minnesota (Big Ten) and have a home game against Boise State. The only cupcake on the schedule is FCS Idaho State, so Oregon State has to be ready for the Pac-12 slate next season—or else the bottom really fall out on Beavers football.
The best quarterback of the three freshman on the roster this year was Seth Collins, but he suffered a knee injury and missed four games. He posted the best completion percentage, the best QB rating and the most rushing yards of the three QBs (Nick Mitchell and Marcus McMaryion were the other two). Collins was also the only one to post a positive touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Truth be told, the ability to throw downfield consistently and successfully was absent no matter which QB was on the field. Mitchell averaged 5.1 yards per attempt, while Collins’ mark was 5.8 ypa. McMaryion had the fewest attempts, but his number was exactly 6.0 yards. You cannot win games without a QB consistently averaging over 7.0 yards per attempt, and that’s understood about the modern passing game.
Overall, the running game was the bright spot of the team, however. Four different ball carriers averaged at least 5.0 yards per attempt, and that kind of work should generally keep the chains moving as long as the QB can hit a deep pass here and there to keep the defense honest. Obviously, that didn’t happen, however.
Collins led the team in rushing with 573 yards; he also scored eight TDs. Ryan Nall and Storm Barrs-Woods just missed reaching 500 yards themselves, and wide receiver Victor Bolden managed 185 yards himself. In total, those four gained 1,706 yards with a 5.4 average. That’s a decent running attack, but the lack of a passing game hurt.
Bolden led the team with 46 catches—but for only 461 yards. Meanwhile, Jordan Villamin posted a 15.3 yards-per-catch average on 43 receptions. That was nice, but to be effective, he needed to double that catch total. Three catches a game doesn’t stretch the defense effectively.
Oregon State featured 10 players that posted at least 41 tackles each—it was a busy defense. Junior linebacker Rommel Mageo posted 87 tackles, more than his freshman and sophomore years combined. Along with Mageo, the next four best tacklers will all be back in 2016: junior LB Caleb Saulo (69 tackles), freshman LB Jonathan Willis (67), sophomore safety Justin Strong (54) and freshman cornerback Treston Decoud (50).
The lack of a push from the defensive line was problematic for the Beavers in the trenches, as six different players led the team with two sacks apiece. Four of those players will be back next year—and hopefully improved. Opposing QBs had a field day against the Oregon State defense, completing 68.4 percent of their passing attempts.
The line also couldn’t stop the run, leaving the LB corps exposed quite often. Opposing teams ran for 227 yards per game against the Beavers. Oregon State’s defense was very tired this year, as it was on the field for 34 minutes a game—the fifth-worst mark among 128 FBS teams.
Experience will help, but the Beavers really need a better defensive line in 2016.
Three-star recruits like defensive ends Isaac Garcia, Hamilcar Rashed and Doug Taumoelau will help augment the front four in 2016, as will three-star defensive tackle Paisa Savea. Elsewhere, four-star cornerback Shurod Thompson will help the secondary as well.
Assuming Collins develops his throwing acumen over the offseason and the defense improves significantly with experience and an infusion of new talent, it’s possible to see the Beavers having an outside chance at six wins and a bowl berth again in 2016.